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Evaluation Revisited – and Love

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by Karla Viebahn, DTM, President 2020/2021 at M.E.A.T. 
It tends to be a mix between honour, challenge and chore for the Toastmaster of the Morning to shape a stimulating M.E.A.T. meeting for advanced members. For last Saturday’s meeting, suddenly the idea how to evaluate better appeared. When then educational speaker embraced the concept, the spark became a glow. On the day, the glow turned into a fire and left me with pride and gratitude.

What feeds such a fire? The skillfully smooth execution of all roles, both prepared and Improvised? Everybody arriving in good time and with cheerful smiles? The warmth of connection? The humour in word and action? The multitude of beautiful and precise English expressions? Or rather the power of concentration palpable when Naomi inspired with “What Has Love Got To Do With It?”? Or perhaps the combined effort of all the evaluators and evaluator’s evaluators putting it to the test? Probably – all of it.

Naomi invited us to interpret evaluating as an act of love and our evaluator role to that of a friend, coach or teacher. She proposed to substitute the well-used judgment “this was …” with an emotive phrase such “what I really enjoyed”, “what gave me pleasure”, “xyz was a joy to watch”. Instead of advice we could offer inspiration and encouragement with “what I believe you are also capable of”, “I invite you to” or “I can see you doing”. Finally we could demonstrate our “mindset of love” by the way of delivery with the speaker in mind. Even should you feel you do not understand a speech, this attitude enables you to find something praiseworthy, concede that content might be out of your reach and invite the speaker to adjust their content to the audience. Cherry on top: It even allows to lead with an evaluation if you happen to not like something or someone (can happen, right?!).

I feel indebted to Naomi for her generous sharing. Moreover, it seemed that the offered mindset permeated and added love to our meeting as a whole – what a joy! I am sure, if Tina Turner had witnessed this meeting, she would agree that this love was no “second hand emotion”.